By Darren Fishell
PORTLAND—Rep. Tom Allen announced his official cosponsorship of the Safety Assurance for Every (SAFE) Consumer Product Act (H.R. 3691) on Oct. 1 at ABC Toys. The legislation comes in response to the extraordinary number of lead-based toy recalls this year — doubling the number of lead-based toy recalls issued in any previous year, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
“It’s a very important problem,” Allen said. “Everybody wants to go out and buy presents for children and grandchildren, and the thought that the product might contain lead is terrifying.”
The act would strengthen the CPSC’s ability to investigate, regulate, and enforce manufacturing standards as well as ban lead in children’s products, specify methods of disclosing recall information to the public, expand criminal penalties, and increase the resources of the CPSC.
“For too long the CPSC has not received the resources and personnel it needs to enforce the laws on the books,” Allen said.
According to Allen’s staff assistant, Sarah Baldwin, a CPSC official recently testified that the commission should have approximately 500 more staff members to adequately complete all of its regulatory tasks.
The act would provide additional funds for the CPSC beginning with $75.6 million for the 2008 fiscal year, increasing annually by $12.35 million to provide $125 million by the 2012 fiscal year.
The act would also allow the CPSC to continue regulatory activities permanently. From January to August of this year, the CPSC was unable to issue any new regulations because the commission had only two of three commissioners required to reach a quorum. The problem was addressed in August by Arkansas Senator Mark Pryor in a one-sentence provision, approved as part of a homeland security bill that allows two commissioners to comprise a quorum until January of 2008. The act would address this stalemate permanently by creating a process for returning full regulatory authority to the commission in the absence of a quorum.